Blake Nelson ’84 Releases New YA Book, “Dream School”

Wes counts Daniel “Lemony Snicket” Handler ’92 and the late Robert Ludlum ’51 among its alumni who have left their mark on the writing world, but somehow Blake Nelson ’84 seems to have slipped a little under the radar so far — at least here on Wesleying.

"I still meet people who have never seen my picture and think that “Blake Nelson” is a girl."Nelson’s new young adult novel Dream School, released last month, is a follow-up to his first novel, Girl, which gained something of a cult following from the moment it was serialized in the classic early ’90s girl-power magazine Sassy.

Dream School sees Girl’s protagonist Andrea Marr leave behind her grungy lifestyle in the Pacific Northwest to attend an elite liberal arts college on the East Coast. It’s not surprising, then, that Nelson has been asked in recent interviews whether parts of his latest novel are based on his own college experiences.

Click through for Nelson on Wes and lots of loving linkage (no awful alliteration though, promise):

Christina: How much of “Dream School” is based on your own college years?

Blake: A lot. Especially the beginning, that first year or two of college, that’s pretty much my experience exactly. I was pretty out of my element at a fancy college like Wesleyan (Wellington, in the book). But probably most people feel that way.

I especially enjoyed writing about those first months when every little detail matters. When you’re noticing what kind of watches people have and how they organize their dorm room. And people are reading The Economist and you’re thinking, “Oh my god, I don’t know anything about the world.” Also the loneliness of it, and that sense that “your life is starting.” You are truly on your own. It’s a real test. It’s a real “rite of passage” moment, especially if you didn’t already go to boarding school or Exeter or whatever. (Interview with xoJane)

Check out the following links for more info / recent press – his interviews are pretty interesting as he’s frequently asked about young adult literature, feminism and ’90s nostalgia / revival culture (but now I kinda feel old, wahhh).

  • BLAKE NELSON TEEN NOVELIST: “News, information and random commentary by author Blake Nelson” (Or, in other words, his blog)
  • Article in NYTimes Magazine
  • Interview with Rookie
  • Read an excerpt from the novel here: “Then Thanksgiving arrived.  That was sort of awkward, everyone suddenly had plans and had made arrangements and as usual, I hadn’t even thought about it.  Amy Weissmann came to my rescue though and invited me to her house in New York.  As it turned out she lived in Rye which wasn’t actually in New York like she always made it sound.  It was more like a suburb.”
  • Oh, and he also wrote Paranoid Park. Which Gus van Sant adapted as a movie in 2007. It won an award at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and Taylor Momsen aka Jenny Humphries from Gossip Girl is part of its cast!

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